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Sudan blames West for Darfur conflict

Sudan's vice-president has blamed the West for the conflict in western Darfur, which the UN has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Last Modified: 10 Jun 2004 19:34 GMT
Fighting in the dirt-poor region has displaced one million people

Sudan's vice-president has blamed the West for the conflict in western Darfur, which the UN has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Ali Osman Taha told Egyptian and Sudanese intellectuals and politicians in Cairo on Thursday that the conflict was "fabricated" by the international community.

The same parties that were responsible for creating war in the southern Sudan nearly 50 years ago are the ones responsible for the confict in Darfur, he said.

Taha did not provide any hard evidence to support his claims but singled out the European Union for criticism, saying it was holding an estimated $400 million in Sudanese government funds.

He said the government wanted to use the funds for projects in Darfur, but the EU refused to release them unless Khartoum resolves the conflict in the south.

"They hold your money and tell you to heal myself," Taha snapped.

Sharp reminder

The vice-president's comments came as world leaders at the G8 summit in the United States called on Sudan to disarm militias they blamed for "massive human rights violations" in the Darfur region.

"We call on all parties to the conflict to immediately and fully respect the ceasefire, allow unimpeded humanitarian access to all those in need, and create the conditions for the displaced to return safely to their homes," the Group of Eight leaders said in a joint statement.

Taha said the EU was witholding
crucial funds for Darfur

The call follows a sharp reminder to Khartoum by the UK that it must rein in Arab militias and ensure help reaches the needy.

"I made it very clear to the government of Sudan that they must bear the primary responsibility for bringing the fighting to an end, for reining in the Janjawid militia and for seeking a political solution for what is a crisis of security," International Development Secretary Hilary Benn said on Wednesday.

Benn was speaking to reporters in London upon his return from a trip earlier this week to Sudan, where he visited three refugee camps inside Darfur, met officials in Khartoum and announced a new $27 million humanitarian aid grant.

Protection force

Meanwhile, the EU has announced it will provide $14.46 million to support observers monitoring a ceasefire between Khartoum and two rebel groups in Darfur.

The 12-month funding was requested by the African Union, which is leading the international mission of up to 120 observers and a possible protection force of 270 soldiers.

"We call on all parties to the conflict to immediately and fully respect the ceasefire, allow unimpeded humanitarian access to all those in need, and create the conditions for the displaced to return safely to their homes"

G8 leaders' statement

"We believe that the success of this mission is crucial ... to deliver humanitarian assistance which is very much needed at this time in Darfur," said Jean-Charles Ellermann-Kingombe, spokesman for the EU executive, on Thursday. 

A deal signed on 28 May provided for an international ceasefire commission and the despatch of civilians and troops to monitor ceasefire violations in the region's key flashpoints.

An estimated 10,000 people have died since rebels complaining of government neglect of their impoverished region launched an uprising in Darfur in February 2003. The uprising was met with fierce retaliation by government and Janjawid forces.

It is thought that one million people have been displaced in Darfur and 130,000 others have fled across the border into Chad.

Source:
AFP
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